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Write every day: Coronavirus Log #4—Plastic

A bright bit of news today. This weekend I turned in the rough draft of my biomimicry project about creating a biodegradable alternative to plastic. When I started this research back in 2019, I never imagined that it would take on the relevance it has today. In a time when it’s easy and understandable to feel useless or helpless, this project has given me an intense sense of purpose.

Being in NYC amid the coronavirus, there’s a lagging threat to our environment that isn’t yet coming into focus because we have to be focused now on protecting and saving human lives and protecting our healthcare workers and first responders. All of this personal protective equipment (PPE) of masks, gowns, gloves, and respirators, as well as medical equipment like ventilators, syringes, tubing, IV drips, etc. are all made from plastic. Even all of the sanitary wipes we’re using – personal and household disinfecting – are all plastic. What we will eventually have to reckon with is that coronavirus has created an exponential spike in plastic waste that may be very slow to ease, and it will have dire environmental consequences.

It happens to be that polypropylene, the kind of plastic I study, is one of the most popular plastics used in healthcare. Most of this plastic medical waste is either buried or burned. It’s not recycled because it’s (rightly) considered biohazard waste. With coronavirus, we’re obviously seeing a huge uptick in the amount of this plastic waste from hospitals, as well as more plastic waste from homes, offices, restaurants, stores, etc. because of disinfecting wipes. The increased demand is also causing us to extract and process more fossil fuels which significantly contribute to climate change.

This will eventually become a problem because plastic is already a huge issue that’s contributing to climate change and the degrading of our ecosystems. Now, it will exacerbate a difficult problem even further. Anything that accelerates climate change even further contributes to creating an environment where viruses are more likely to thrive. It’s a vicious, ugly cycle.

So what could make a difference? Creating a biodegradable, virus-resistant alternative to plastic as the raw material to create PPE, medical devices, and healthcare products. That’s what I’m working on with the lab I’m collaborating with here in New York City. This research has now taken on an added importance and urgency. We’ll be polishing this research over the next two weeks and submitting for funding months sooner than we ever imagined we would. Our hope is that we will be able to create a company to create jobs to create products that create the opportunity for a greener, healthier healthcare system that will be much better prepared when a public health crisis like this finds us again (and it is a matter of when and not if). It will also help us create a cleaner, healthier world in general if we are successful in replacing plastic with a biodegradable alternative that has all of plastic’s virtues and none of its vices.

We have a long way to go and we have a lot of hurdles to clear but beginning this work during this time feel like a way to make some progress. At the very least, it helps me feel like I’m doing what I can to be both helpful and useful from where I am with what I have.

About Christa Avampato

The short of it: Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day. The long of it: My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events. While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post,,, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series. A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist. My company: I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media: • I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference; • I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable; • I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me. Follow my adventures on Twitter at and Instagram at


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